Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
Dinner 1: Pasta alla Norcina and Arugula Salad
Pasta alla Norcina is a pasta dish that showcases flavorful pork sausage in a light cream sauce. We start by making our own sausage using store-bought ground pork and plenty of garlic. After searing the sausage we finish cooking it in a sauce of cream, wine, and mushrooms. For our Arugula Salad with Grapes, Fennel, Gorgonzola, and Pecans, we add ingredients to temper the assertiveness of the arugula while accommodating its lively flavor. Grapes and blue cheese add sweet and salty counterpoints to the sharp, peppery greens; pecans and fennel contribute crunch and freshness. For the dressing, we add a spoonful of jam, which adds fruity sweetness and pulls the flavors of the salad in line.
Food ProcessorsHow much do you need to spend to get a machine that makes light work of chopping, slicing, shredding, and mixing?
Dinner 2: Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli with Restaurant-Style Rice
Game Plan: Start by tossing the shrimp with the salt and sugar. While the shrimp sits, complete the rest of the prep for the stir-fry and mix the sauce ingredients (step 2). Once the ingredients for the stir-fry are in place, start cooking the rice. As soon as the heat under the rice is reduced and the pan is covered, cook the stir-fry.
We start our Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli by tossing the shrimp with a little salt and sugar and letting them sit for 30 minutes. This not only seasons the shrimp but also helps them retain moisture during cooking. Then, rather than stir-fry the shrimp in a hot skillet as most recipes call for, we add the sauce to the pan and poach the shrimp gently in the liquid, covered, to ensure that they stay moist. We serve the stir-fry with our Chinese Restaurant-Style Rice, which is soft enough to soak up savory sauces, yet sticky enough to pick up with chopsticks. We found that rinsing the grains removes some of their surface starch and that starting them in boiling water provides enough agitation to release the remaining starch, resulting in just the right amount of stickiness.
The Best WoksAfter years of preferring nonstick skillets to woks for making stir-fries, we decided to take a fresh look at this traditional pan.
Dinner 3: White Beans with Tomatoes and Broiled Broccoli Rabe
For Quick White Beans with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Sage we call for meaty cannellini beans, but other white beans can be swappd in, and even a mix of canned beans would be fine. We start the dish by sautéing sliced garlic and chopped sage in olive oil, then we stir in drained canned diced tomatoes and simmer the mixture to create a flavorful base. Gently cooking the creamy beans in the base (along with some chicken broth) brings all of the elements together. For our Broiled Broccoli Rabe, the intense heat of the broiler creates deep caramelization without overcooking the vegetable.